Ready to seat five to eight people, depending on configuration, Buick’s midsize crossover SUV shares its basic front-wheel-drive structure with the GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse. Built with a unibodied chassis rather than a separate frame, the Buick Enclave promises carlike road behavior.
Only one powertrain is offered: a 3.6-liter V6 engine driving a 6-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available, to increase sure-footedness and confidence when the weather turns harsh.
Smooth-riding and comfortable, with a spacious and attractive interior, the Enclave handles like a relatively large vehicle, especially on narrow roads. Fuel economy fails to edge past the average for its class, but it’s markedly better than you’d get with a full-size, truck-based GMC Yukon or Cadillac Escalade.
Introduced for 2008, Enclave was the first member of this GM crossover group. Though comparatively expensive, Buick’s version is an appropriate choice for larger families, especially with the third-row seat installed. Overall utility is comparable to a minivan. Second-row seating is fine for either two or three adults, and the third-row seat is more spacious than those in some competitors. Third-row seats fold completely flat, creating a huge load floor behind the second row. With all seats upright, cargo space behind the rear seat totals 23 cubic feet.
Little has changed for 2016, except for newly standard 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Also new is OnStar 4G LTE connectivity, which can provide a built-in wi-fi hotspot. A new Tuscan appearance package is available for models that use bronze to highlight the waterfall grille and its 20-inch chrome wheels.
IntelliLink, GM’s telematics/infotainment system, is standard. Digital features also include Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, and Pandora and Stitcher audio apps. A rearview camera is standard, along with a USB port, HD radio, satellite radio, and voice recognition. Navigation is optional.
Enclave has earned a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That score includes five stars each for the front and side-impact tests and four stars for the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Enclave Good ratings for all tests. A standard front-center airbag helps protect front occupants in the event of a side impact. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are available. So are lane-departure and forward-collision warnings.